U.S. envoy advises Nigeria to strengthen its power sector

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Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, has advised Nigeria to strengthen its power sector to facilitate economic growth.

Entwistle gave the advice while answering reporters’ questions in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said the U.S. was doing a lot in the energy sector to help “power Africa’’.

“We are doing a lot in the energy front, much of these are through President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative.

“Through that, we are trying to help DisCos (Distribution Companies) and GenCos (Generation Companies) sort of privatise and get in business and so on.

“We have put some advisers in various DisCos and so on.

“It seems to me like there are some rural communities that would probably never be on the national grid.

“So, solar energy makes tremendous sense.

“We’ll also use these opportunity to promote U.S. business – U.S. companies that provide cost-effective solar energy equipment.

“So, the power sector in this country – I don’t have to tell you – is probably the key thing that has to be fixed for the economy to grow.

“But we are trying to help in any way we can to power Africa.’’

The envoy said the U.S. had achieved a lot in strengthening the Nigerian economy, adding that some big U.S companies had invested in Nigeria.

He listed some of the companies as General Electric, Procter & Gamble, oil companies and some Hi-tech like Google and Microsoft.

“Under my stewardship here, the U.S. team has put in huge effort in helping the Nigerian government in the North East.

“Some of that have been through military training, equipment, etc.

“We are also doing a lot to help the government get ready for the next stage in the North East, which will be the return of civilian administration as well as getting the police up and running in the area.

“And my government is doing a lot we provided about 700 million dollars this year to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the North East.

“As I said in my speech at the Independence Day celebration, there is food crisis in the North East of Nigeria.

“I think all of you should be doing more of reporting on this crisis.

“They are Nigerians dying of starvation in Nigeria. How can that be in this marvellous country?”

Entwistle said donor agencies and governments needed to step up humanitarian assistance in the area of hunger and starvation.

He said it was the primary responsibility of the government to take steps towards eliminating hunger. (NAN)

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